The Centre for Independent Living Sofia (CIL Sofia), the European Network on Independent Living (ENIL) and the European Disability Forum (EDF) are organising a conference on investing in Independent Living, to encourage Bulgaria and other Member States to redirect funding from ‘special services’ towards individualised support and mainstream options that facilitate social inclusion and active citizenship of people with disabilities.
The “Investing in Independent Living” conference, taking place in Sofia today, is supported by the Bulgarian Presidency of the EU and will bring together representatives of the European Commission, the Bulgarian Government, the EU Fundamental Rights Agency, the UN OHCHR – Regional Office for Europe, and European and Bulgarian organisations of disabled people.
Bulgaria is among the Member States using the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESI Fund) to support the process of ‘transition from institutional to community-based care’. However, concerns have been raised about the implementation of this process and the fact that people with disabilities are being placed in smaller institutions and sent to day care centres, rather than provided with genuine options to live in the community. There is also a lack of understanding of ‘personal assistance’, defined in the General Comment on Article 19 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) as ‘person-directed/user-led” and a “tool for independent living”.
The conference will challenge the current practices by proposing concrete measures that would facilitate access to independent living – in the areas of employment, legal capacity, housing, education and support. It comes one week after the publication of the European Commission proposal for the post 2020 ESI Funds legislation and three months before Bulgaria’s review by the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It therefore provides an opportunity to critically reflect about Bulgaria’s progress towards independent living, and to ensure that the next financing period supports CRPD implementation – in Bulgaria and the rest of the EU.
The conference is taking place at the Central Hotel Sofia, Hristo Botev Blvd 52, 1000 Sofia. To download the conference programme, please click here.